Rush for a change of atmosphere?

"B.C.'s New Democrat Party opposition has lost its sense of direction." So sayeth Bill Tieleman in a column published in today's edition of 24 hours. Mr. Tieleman, the former communications director for the British Columbia Federation of Labour and then Premier Glen Clark, writes that "a series of NDP political blunders have resulted in the Gordon Campbell Liberals enjoying a big advantage over the NDP in recent polls." And, even though "Carole James is an effective, personable and persuasive leader," if she and "her MLAs don't figure out how to be a strong opposition and hold the Liberals feet to the fire instead of burning their own, they will be sitting on the wrong side of the Legislature for many years to come." Of course, this isn't the first time a question mark has been publicly raised about the New Democrat's performance by a prominent personality from the left.

During the July 27 broadcast of Voice of BC, Doug McArthur - who served as the deputy minister to two New Democrat premiers - noted, "We've now had a complete session with Carole James and her caucus in Opposition to the government - her new expanded caucus. The success of the Opposition has been questioned by many. The polls show that the Liberals are up significantly and the NDP is down significantly. I think we all know and appreciate that amongst New Democrats - active New Democrats - one of the questions being asked is, 'Do we have the leadership that can do the job, and can we go through to the next election with the current leadership?'"

31 Comments

How many times have I seen this same explanation offered? If the party is having any difficulties, it must be the fault of the leadership.

Has anyone ever considered the possibility that the followers might be the problem? As long as a party keeps rotating leaders in a search for success, it will never, ever deal with fundamental philosophical and demographic problems, or basic organizational ineptitude. I always laugh when I see representatives of the Grit or Tory party's congradulating the NDP on good grass roots organization because it's the exact opposite of the truth. Presumably it's just a throwaway line designed to irritate NDP activists and at the same time put a little motivating scare into your own, ... assuming they don't know the truth!

Nils Jensen had a good point during the leadership race. When a party has a membership with an average age over 65, there's a problem. It's not Carole James fault that happened, it's been a collective NDP failure going back to the 1960s. The NDP suffered from a complete inability to come to grips with the realities of the Boomer generation (David Lewis for national leader in the early 1970s, ... when he was 65+???), and then each successive cohort thereafter. The NDP's elderly age profile in its paid-up membership is a kind of internal party reflection of what we see happening with overall voter turnout, where each successive age group to reach voting age participates less than the cohort that preceeded it.

My dear friend, the illustrious former Staff Sgt. Tieleman, raises some very good points about the troops he formerly helped command.

Carole James is washed up. She was effectively so after the last election. The provincial Libs followed the worst possible advice during the last campaign, thanks to their braintrust, and all the NDP could do was come within a moderate striking distance. Not good. And if that same briantrust ran some better candidates on the island and in the interior, instead of deadbeats and has-beens, the spread might have been greater. Think of Virginia Greene in Fairview instead of Planet Gregor, who's done nothing more than jerk us a smoothie.

In some sense, Budd Campbell is right, but wrong in the long strokes...the NDP elected some good, young candidates, on the face of it, but other than Farnworth (who I have always liked) and Dix, who I will admit has made a more than admirable effort, who've they got beating the bushes? No one. I think a healthy Opposition is a must, but you won't see it out of this lot. Christ, even nutters like Chudnovsky have been in a sitting frenzy. Where's Ralston? Other than a few orchestrated ups on Barnston Island during the summer, nothing.

Carole James guarantees another win for the Libs...unless Spiderman's web extends far beyond the testimony that we currently know of.....and that, unfortunately, may very well be the tale of the tape.

Nothing like the irony of someone who worked for Glen Clark worrying about the current BC NDP's "sense of direction".

Kuri, can you explain something to me. Why is it that so many Prairie New Democrats, be it Prof John Richards or ex-Premier Romanow, or you, are all so contemptuous of Glen Clark? I wonder if his success in the Jim Pattison Group, where he has made a helluva lot more money that Roy Romamow did as sole Royal Commissioner on Health, might have something to do with it, ... you know, envy?

While I am not a fan of the Glen Clark government, one can not fault them on being directionless. Just because I did not like the direction they went does not mean that did not have a sense of where they were headed. I give them full marks for trying, but they simply discovered that much of what they wanted to achieve was not possible.

The NDP under Harcourt had a very different feel and direction than the NDP under Clark. Under both of them it was clear where the NDP wanted to head and the difference was clear as well. Clark is in my opinion the last time the NDP in BC had any sense of direction or purpose.

Certainly the last year of the NDP in power was directionless - the last NDP premier is not even a member of the party any longer and is now a Liberal. It is myth for anyone to suggest that the federal Liberal party and the BC Liberal party are not only ideologically almost identical, but their is a huge oeverlap in the active memberships.

After the 2005 election I would have expected a much stronger vision of what the NDP would be like in government. I expected a much stronger investigation of what is happening in the government. No matter how well a government works, the opposition still has a lot it can bring into the light - that is their role.

It is as if the majority of NDP MLAs, and all the caucus staff, are happily content with the government and willing to be the opposition for the next few elections and avoid having to take any real responsibility for governing BC. Maybe 1991 - 2001 has put a physcological fear of governing into the NDP?

I do not know on what substantive issues the NDP really disagrees with the government on.

As long as Carole allows David Perry to run the show and overrule MLAs who want to do things, the NDP will be stuck in neutral.

And it appears Perry will be there as long as James is.

Jerks us a smoothie!!??

HEHEHE - that was a good chuckle....

Leadership is more than a single person or in this case Carole. Especially while in opposition.

The Dippers were leaderless and caucused in a corvette when Joy and Jenny were wiping up the floor with the libs. And their extraordinary effort did not just bring the New Dems within striking distance. No, in fact their effort coupled with the eneptitude of the Libs almost delivered them Government.

Had the newly elected dippers simply behaved like the Government-in-waiting and had the twinkling stars like Flemming, Horgan, Ralston, Farnworth and Robertson followed Dix's formidable lead they may have been exactly that a Governement-in-waiting. All they had to do was never let up in such a target rich environment, like Dix!

Instead, they fell a sleep at the switch and handed the game to the libs. They maybe a Government-in-waiting but it will be a long wait with no real strategy relevant until 2013 ... maybe. Try keeping the 65 year olds busy until that one comes!

Mmm... I have a feeling that the recent staff departures give us some indication of how the leadership sees their inability to gain any media traction. Remember that the legislature has barely been in session at all over the last year, and that Gordobot's been keeping to uncontroversial topics. Also, recall that virtually the entire NDP caucus is rookies and that only half of the four NDP members with any real government experience (Lali, Corky, Dix and Farnworth) are in any position to do anything.

Frankly, I think that Gordobot's made a massive mistake: immediately post-election, against an extra-ordinarily inexperienced opposition, the Liberals could have done anything the wanted. They didn't, and now the NDP members/staff have had a chance to learn the ropes (to master the issues, procedure, media, etc).

My prediction: as Gordobot and his fellow plutocrat-servants decide that they actually need to get back to the task of doing the master's bidding (privatising water, energy and the rest of the public service), they'll find the pesky NDP there pointing to the malfeasance and incompetence typical of the first Liberal government. Two years from now, with Olympic cost overruns and all that, you'll see a government on the ropes.

David M is dreaming in technicolour.

There is no chance, under the current leadership and support group, that the NDP will be more than a wart on the ass of the next election. The Libs have learned their lesson and will hopefully fire to the fools responsible for the last election's strategy (not all, just some). The only way the NDP will even come close to getting Government back is if Bornmann's frothy tune has far reaching tentacles and into the West Annex. I doubt it, but one never knows. But then again, there is always the "Carole Factor". If Ms. Taylor wants she can get--it's really as simple as that. And if she doesn't, then the Libs will have to swing to the right (which won't hurt them at all considering the politically correct nonsense coming out of the AG's office alone) and it will be Premier Falcon. Either way, they can beat the NDP handily because, as has been pointed out many times on this blog and in commentaries throughout the Province: as long as the NDP are married to the unions, and the unions remain as rabid and militant as they currently are, the people will not forgive or forget. Of course, if Spiderman's testimony under oath proves to be nothing more than premature evaluation, then Gordini remains magician through the Olympics (which everyone already knows will exceed the billion and a half mark)--no big shocker, Ministers should just not hang on to the 600M figure the way a drunk hangs on to a lampost.

"Kuri, can you explain something to me. Why is it that so many Prairie New Democrats, be it Prof John Richards or ex-Premier Romanow, or you, are all so contemptuous of Glen Clark? I wonder if his success in the Jim Pattison Group, where he has made a helluva lot more money that Roy Romamow did as sole Royal Commissioner on Health, might have something to do with it, ... you know, envy?"

Quite the irony there since Glen Clark had a rabid hatred of successful capitalists like Jimmy when Glen was a pup working in the business hating union steward environment.

Clark maybe successful now, but he bombed badly when he was Premier. Cost the province a fortune on his wanting to build those aluminum cans that passed as productive vehicle ferries.

As for Alex (Mr. T) the usual Liberal arrogance is showing through again. He has some valid points
(amongst them, the BC Liberals in 2005 didn't run as good as a campaign as they did in 2001), but the BC Liberal's time will eventually end. When that occurs is of course up to the NDP.

Carole Taylor? Give it a rest. She's federal Liberal and an sample of the nauseating "perfect
person" from the Big City. She hasn't had challenging times in politics, and when that happens (and it will eventually), then we'll see what kind of leadership she shows.

Kevin Falcon? Possible. But Kevin too hasn't had to run a Ministry or be an MLA during politically challenging times. When that happens (and it will), then we'll see what kind of leadership he shows.

But agree with Alex. The Ministers shouldn't hang on to that $600 million like a blonde stripper hangs onto the dance pole.

Tom...shame on you..

You have something against blonde strippers?

They're actually quite, oh nevermind...

After congratulating her troops on their election showing in 2005, James encouraged them all to reward themselves by taking a holiday, as she was doing, FOR THE WHOLE SUMMER. The only MLAs who appeared to ignore her advice were Dix and Bob Simpson, who followed up on the election momentum to dive right into their critic portfolios. Most of the caucus still seems to be on holiday--James certainly is.

Say what you want about Glen Clark, but he definitely didn't go on holiday (especially not for half the year), not even when he was in opposition. I'm sure Carole privately celebrated when she learned the session was cancelled: more time for camping! She had an impressive little political career on the Victoria School Board, and now she's proven to be... a burnt-out school trustee.

We have an opposition?

Thanks for the comments on my column. There are more at my blog:

http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/

Just a rejoinder to my friend Comrade Tsakumis: the NDP won elections in 1991 and 1996 because it had 65% of the vote in union households - not despite it.

Misreading the union support factor is a significant mistake.

As to some of the other comments, I was communications director when Glen Clark & the NDP came from 30 points behind to beat Gordon Campbell in 1996.

- Bill Tieleman

Why is it that so many Prairie New Democrats, be it Prof John Richards or ex-Premier Romanow, or you, are all so contemptuous of Glen Clark?

What an interesting cohort to place me in, Budd!

Why am I contemptuous of Glen Clark? Of the man himself, I'm not contemptuous at all.

Of the government (and more importantly the party) under his leadership, I have to say that it was characterized by a failure to consolidate gains and by an arrogance that prevented continuing organization, and killed constituency associations.

I helped out in a campaign to keep an NDP seat in 2000 when I was studying at SFU. That should have been a relatively low-key, easy campaign to win, being a half working-class riding that contained the university. However, the level of disorganization, the lack of morale, and the lack of provincial support was depressing. Where were the volunteers? Where was the money? Where was the candidate support? And this disorganization was significant enough that this situation had to have been building for years.

And I say that as an Alberta New Democrat. Despite having much greater challenges in Alberta, I've never experienced that here. Even if Clark succeeded at everything else, that killing of the membership, that negligence of the grassroots is a strong indictment against him.

The split in the right vote had nothing to do with the 1996 election; it was all this Bill Tieleman guy, according to him at least. What a legend.

I helped out in a campaign to keep an NDP seat in 2000 ...

Even if Clark succeeded at everything else, that killing of the membership, that negligence of the grassroots is a strong indictment against him.

Posted by Kuri on November 21, 2006

By an election in the year 2000, do you mean the federal election of November 2000, or the provincial general election of May 2001, when the BC NDP was led by Federal Liberal recruitment candidate Ujjal Dosanjh?

I don't know how many years you lived in BC, but the decline in the party's active membership really began after the 1986 election. By 1991, though the NDP won against a self-destructing Social Credit party, volunteers were fairly scarce even in winnable ridings. By 1996, when Clark and Tieleman pulled off their miracle come-from-behind performance, things hadn't improved, but at least they hadn't gotten worse. By the time of the federal election of 2000 or the provincial election the following Spring, with the Pacificats cost overruns and the so-called Fudgit Budget stories being emphasized over and over again by the media, and with Clark deposed and Dosanjh installed, membership and volunteers as well as poll standings were down to an all time low.

Blaming this on Clark is historically inaccurate as the decline started more than a decade earlier, was considerably accelerated under Harcourt, whose government came in with high hopes only to end up in patronage driven disappointments, was briefly halted during Clark's term, and then went hog-wild under Dosanjh, the Liberal in waiting.

Mr. Tieleman correctly says that Clark came back from a lot down to beat Campbell in 1996.

Conveniently forgets the 1996 budget fiasco, which if had come to light before the election, would have assuredly changed the outcome.

However, had the election gone the to the Libs, Campbell would not had the next 5 years to assemble a stronger team, we might today have another NDP government instead.

Thanks Glen and Bill!!!

"Conveniently forgets the 1996 budget fiasco, which if had come to light before the election, would have assuredly changed the outcome."

The media has always made a great deal of this, for ideological reasons. One of the first TV news types to hop on the "fudget budget" bandwagon was the then CBC host, Kevin Evans. Mister Evans now toils as a lobbyist for the Retail Council of Canada and his primary agenda is keeping down the minimum wage an other employment related costs among those employees who are the least paid of all.

When a court case was tried on this issue the judge found there was no basis whatsoever to the claims of falsification. Yet the media, from Palmer and Smyth on down, continue to peddle the "fudget budget" story line. After all, ... it's just a story ...

Why is it that high crimes and misdemeanours are so eagerly sought, told and retold, if they have any connection to the NDP ... and yet, the police raids on the BC Legislature which puts the whole system of government on trial, is under a virtual cone of silence?

I'm going to start looking for a connection between the NDP and Basi & Virk because it's doggoned important that some light gets shed onto what went on with BC Rail and all.

I'm pretty sure that any NDP connection would bring CanWest on the run to dig up every detail of such a ghastly travesty. I'm pretty sure CanWest would also repeat the criminal treachery many times -- until the public had it firmly fixed in their minds, never to be shaken again.

I'll go first: maybe Mike Harcourt was Mafia Leader for the Legislative Assembly ... naaaa. Maybe it was Glen ... na. Ujjal? Joy? Carole?

Well, OK, if you're so smart, YOU try ...

"I'm going to start looking for a connection between the NDP and Basi & Virk because it's doggoned important that some light gets shed onto what went on with BC Rail and all. "

Wouldn't waste the time. The only connection between Basi and Virk and a political party is that Basi was a self centred political organiser
for the BC Liberals, imported from the federal Liberals.

Virk had no interest in transportation related subjects prior to him becoming a paid hack.

PV, you missed my point: I think that the BasiVirkBasi trial deserves much closer study, analysis, understanding ... not the cone of silence.

And the BVB trial would actually get that study and understanding if it had been connected to the NDP. OK?

Now I invite you to find the link.

Sorry, Budd, yes, I did mean the 2001 election. I worked the 2000 federal one, too, but that was a very different scenario. No shortage of volunteers for Svend back then!

I think for Svend Robinson, running this January was about two or three years too soon after the jewelry theft episode. His admission at that time that he had been suffering from mental health problems for some considerable length of time tended to call into doubt his more controversial stands of the last several years, most particularly his roundhouse denunciations of "the mushy middle" in the NDP.

But more than that the race in Vancouver Centre became a text book case of the degree to which urban, non-union voters, even those of average incomes and facing high housing costs, are wedded to the Liberal label. And that includes the provincial Liberal label and Lorne Maynecourt.

Just when we think we can like you again Budd, you go off like a donkey.....

Only you, of the left tits apologist brigade, could possible state that there is a shelf life on being a thief. Svend Robinson should be a kin to the plague in your beloved party, but noooo, of course not.

You, and the NDP, coast to coast, are organizational relics, without one scintilla of real change. Here, you got Carole what's her name, she's so vacant of thought and space, we've all forgotten her, and Jack Laydown in Ottawa, he of the double-dipping household (like Grewal--agh!!!) that has managed to carve a new identity out for himself, but certainly not his union-infested party.

Svend Robinson is a thief, Buddly. Get over it. There are, sadly, millions of bi-polar folks wordwide, I'm sure, and if you canvassed them, I bet stealing a womens engagment ring for a male counterpart, as a by-product of that dreaded condition, can't be attributed to anyone else but Svendover. That was the real story, that no one covered. Now eat it.

"Only you, ... could possible state that there is a shelf life on being a thief."

So says once-upon-a-time Sullivan confidante, A. G. Tsakumis. It's too bad, ... really just too bad, ... that Mr. Tsakumis was in way too big a hurry to tell us all if there is a shelf life on being a drunk driver.

Budd, give your head a shake--twice, please.

Gordon Campbell's behavior one Maui night was something he paid for, in many ways, and dearly. He immediately came out and apologized and has stayed true ever since. I admire that very, very much. And the general public don't give a sniff if he drinks again either, so long as he's responsible and doesn't wheel it. He never smeared the mentally ill by using some manufactured, spontaneous affliction as a crutch or excuse. Svendover certainly did and with his usual flair, sans the feather boa. Give us a break. We've all been stupid enough to drive drunk in the past. Some of us were fortunate not to have killed ourselves or someone else. Gordon got caught, and, quite honourably, took full responsiblity.

Five months into Svendover's river of crocodile tears, he and some of his politcal ilk in the mainstream media were still describing his act of THEFT, as a "pocketing".

Give it your bullshit a rest Budd, seriously. You make it almost impossible to read your crap when you just don't make sense--and most of the time, you don't.

I 'm glad some people believed Smythe , Palmer and rest about forgiving the premier . They were telling us we forgave him even before that fake apology. I do not forgive anyone for driving drunk . I've lost too many friends to Drunk Drivers.

Give it your bullshit a rest Budd, seriously. You make it almost impossible to read your crap when you just don't make sense--and most of the time, you don't.

Posted by A. G. Tsakumis on November 24, 2006

Tskumis, may I suggest you heed your own advice?

Gordon Campbell deserves some respect for climbing on and staying (apparently) on the wagon, but he sure as hell didn't take much responsibility for an extremely dangerous action.

He informed no one until late the following day and then delayed making any public statement for some three days.

Then, other than whining to the public while using his wife as a prop to fend off probing questions, Campbell did absolutely no more than he was forced to do because he was caught commiting a serious (at least in Canada) criminal offence.

"he honourably, took full responsibility" ???

He simply pled guilty, paid his fine and returned to Canada.

He also seems to have been a wee bit short about his consumption that night. I think he said he had a glass or two of wine, hardly the volume to register a 0.16 blood/alcohol content on a larger than average adult male body.

Just what was it he did that we wouldn't expect your typical drunk driver from BC to offer up given the circumstances?

"We've all been stupid enough to drive drunk in the past. "

Not so fast, Alex. There are many people who are smart enough not to even try.

Some of us were fortunate not to have killed ourselves or someone else. Gordon got caught, and, quite honourably, took full responsiblity.

Gordo was very lucky. Personally, I have no tolerance for anyone who drinks and drives, the
point made by Budd and other (including myself) is that Gordo should have known better.

I think it was a case of him being "on top of the world", and "having the province by the tail", and
in some series of circusmstance of fate, he suddenly was cut down because he personally wasn't watching what he was doing.

The most pathetic part of that episode wasn't actually Gordo, it was the blindy loyalists that surrounded him in the "we support the Premier".

I don't and won'y forgive Gordo for his drunk driving. I've lost half the family over the effects of alcoholism before I was 25.

Gordo could have ensured our drunk driving laws
were alot more stricter, but didn't.

and before you say something smart ass in response
Alex...

in this instance, $%^# off.

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